Archive for January, 2012


If you read the title of this Lesson, then you know the answer – YES….bears do poop in the woods. A lot of other things poop in the woods too (including Chicks with Ticks). So, in honor of Kristen this week – we will take a look at….

SCAT

(that’s right – POOP)

It’s not every day you get to talk about it, laugh about it, see it, or study it. Believe it or not, we look for it everywhere we go. No, we aren’t weirdos (at least some of us aren’t). We can tell a lot about a site by what scat is strewn about. One spot we found large bobcat scat – it told us there must be a fairly healthy population of small mammals or food and that we should be careful. Cow poop means grazing and we look for signs of stressors in the streams. Otter poop means a good aquatic support system. People poop – well, someone has preceded us!

So, here are a few crappy (ha ha) photos of various types of scat – see which ones you can name?

Dried poop.

Who's poop?

Hmmm.....poop in the grass!

Old poop.

Poop in a tree!

Stream of Consciousness

We here, at Chicks with Ticks (and the Hicks with Ticks too), wanted to take a break and go back to the basics for those of you who have joined us recently. Our team has grown and our stories will too so we want you to know who we are talking about. It has always been our sincere wish that each of you feels like you are with us in the field when you visit us here.

So, without further adieu, I want to tell you all about what we do and who we are. We are a team of nerdy, quirky, weird, and crazy people who came from different backgrounds. John and Kristen are our resident fluvial geomorphologists, I, Jacque, am the resident McGiver and do everything but especially botany, Josh is our crazy kid fish guy and general goofball, Jess is our water quality geek and consummate snake hater, and Aziza is our GIS princess and doer of all mappingtons. Along with these crazies, you will hear about the other freaks, geeks, and weirdos we work and play with along the way. Add in a sprinkling of family members, kids, dogs, and friends and you have yourself a serious cast of a ridiculous nature. There isn’t a dull moment!

We began as a rag-tag lot of employees at an engineering and scientific firm (not to be named at this time). What became of us is unbelievable to me some days! We became extreme hikers, taxonomists, hydrobiofluvialgeomorphologists, stream specialists, reclamation experts, dirt lickers, alligator smackers, snake whackers, bug catchers, tortoise digger uppers, botanists extraordinaire, scat identifiers, vegetative control specialists, muck monsters, fish floppers, tree climbing Chicks and Hicks with Ticks. One other thing we became – passionate about streams, lakes, rivers, swamps, bogs, wetlands, and science….oh – and each other! We became something else as we changed – you have heard me say this before – we became WILD!

What we realize now is that there is no turning back! We will continue the science, the mud, the wet socks, the weird smells, the funny photos….and the writing and sharing of it all. Some of you can relate totally! Some live vicariously through us and some have no idea how we do it! All of you are welcome and we thank you all for being here.

This blog is to show you all where we go – ANYWHERE! That’s right – we go anywhere…and everywhere! We encourage you to get out there and do the same….experience some of the things we experience….see the beauty….feel the sunshine…..get chiggers….climb a tree…..plant a garden…and bring the kids, family, friends, dogs and CAMERA!! We want to hear about it – and see the photos. In fact – look below to see the strange cast of characters here at Chicks with Ticks (and Hicks). Welcome – enjoy the trip (and it is truly a trip)!! But most of all – thanks. Without you, none of this would be as much fun!

John - Our Mentor - It's all his fault!!

Me - Jacque - Creator & Author - Boots + Shorts = SEXY!!

Aziza (this is a photo-shopped pic - she does not dress like this in the office)

Kristen - Co-Creator & author at Chicks with Ticks

Jess - Our Dancing Water Specialist

 

Wow – have to hand it to http://dearkitty1.wordpress.com/for recognizing our site and awarding us the amazing Kreativ Blogger Award! Thank so much.

Here are my replies, according to Kreativ Blogger Award rules:

1. Name your favorite song:Love is Unstoppable by Rasscal Flatts.

2. Name your favourite dessert:

Cake

3. What ticks me off:

Inconsideration

4. When I’m upset I:

cry

5. What’s your favourite pet:

Dog

6. Black or white:

Black.

7. Biggest Fear:

Dying by fire

8. Everyday attitude:

You can do anything!

9. What is perfection:

Being able to spend more time with my family.

10. Guilty Pleasure:

Vacations

—-

7 Random Things About Me

1.I am quirky

2. I started blogging in October 2011 after being laid off.

3. I was published in a poetry anthology in High School

4. I love to fish

5.I sing karaoke

6. I work full time, have a second job, blog, and hand dye t-shirts…

7. I one day hope to be able to speak to young people and those in urban settings about getting out into the wild.

According to Kreativ Blogger Award rules, I am passing this award on to 10 more bloggers. If you’ve already received one, just know that I feel you deserve another one. The ten bloggers are:

http://www.ianbutlerphotography.co.uk/

http://backonmyown.wordpress.com/

http://youvebeenhooked.wordpress.com/

http://pixilatedtoo.wordpress.com/

http://lackofenvironment.wordpress.com/

http://padmum.wordpress.com/

http://pindanpost.com/

http://withywindlenatureprograms.com/

http://patbean.wordpress.com/

http://roguemare.wordpress.com/

 

These are some really deserving folks…so enjoy these links. and Thanks Kitty!

 

Some place to get lost - Jack Creek near Lake Josephine

It isn’t every day you hike miles into the wild forests and need to find your way back to the truck. Well, it isn’t for most people. For us, it is every day! We have gone into some fairly dense canopies only to look around and realize that we had no idea which way we came from. This feeling, the feeling that you are really lost, is unnerving.

Some of us on the team have the most amazing gift though. We like to call it our inner compass or personal GPS. Over the years it has astounded some and has even amazed us. We have been in the middle of nowhere where the trees and bushes all look the same – and we can point to North or exactly which tree we just passed! I know it sounds unbelievable – but believe me it’s true.

I can’t tell you how nice it is to always know where you are facing. It’s like I can never be lost – except the few times that my inner GPS didn’t work or I got sidetracked and was looking too closely at flowers and not the path. Those times, I felt so helpless. I felt lost. I felt confused.

What I have come to realize is that my inner GPS is based on the sun. Much like a bee (see past post) I think I rely on the angle of the sun to determine which way is north. I also know that I make a mental map of odd things we pass. It’s unconsciously done and I never am fully aware that I am doing unless I am talking to myself out loud (which I often do). The times I got lost were in rainy weather or dusk conditions.

There something though, something that happened to me when I got lost. I almost wanted to sit down and start all over. I wanted to go through the trip in my head to see where I had gone wrong – surely this would produce the map – certainly I would know where I was. No. It didn’t work. I tried with everything I had to recreate the day, relive the trip, re-walk the walk – re-drive the drive – but, to no avail. I was truly lost and couldn’t tell you where to go.

I found it interesting. I began to analyze those people I know who get lost and unnerved often. It made me feel sympathetic and even appalled that I never really understood. I wanted to reach out and tell them that I was sorry for being unfeeling. I now know what it is like feeling lost.

Josh almost always wants to get lost wherever we go!

Please, don’t get these lost sessions confused with the times I truly want to get lost. There are times I want to keep walking into the swamp. I don’t ever want to turn around and re-walk the path – I want to see more, know more, risk more. There are places that I wish I could get lost in….I hope you know at least one place like that! If not, go find it. You will be drawn back a thousand times….or at least until you get lost.

We find native Florida Killifish – this is an amazing video – just had to share!!

Dear Kitty. Some blog

Killifish are well known as aquarium fish. This BBC video, however, is about killifish in their natural environment in Africa, including an elephant’s footprint filled with water.

View original post

Morphology

I stand just knee-deep in the water

Watch and smile as the current flows by

And I ache just to think of the fishes

Swimming by as I ruffle their sky

Lake County Illinois

 

How I long to be one with the riffles

Lilting wetly and moving the sand

Making fun of the footsteps of mortals

Whose futile work falls on the land

 

Then I spy in a pool small swamp darters

Smiling keenly and moving about

Knowing nothing is ever forever

As my hand moves the lilies about

It’s so temping to join in the living

Feel the tug of the algae beneath

Lose myself to these waves of abandon

Sink my soul, sink my hands, sink my feet

 

I lie down in the life-giving wetness

Let it slide over my tired life and limb

Close my eyes to the bright rays of sunshine

Grab a fistful of muck in the dim

From Professional Bow Hunters Society website

 

I grow roots fins and gills as I lie here

I breathe rain and the muck warms my scales

Then I wriggle away with my soul mates

As a bowfin nips hard at my tail.

 

I escape to the pools and the thalwegs

I give over to point bars and runs

Leave behind all the worry and sadness

To the men toiling hard in the sun

It is perfect Jacque! Go Anywhere!

That’s right. It had to happen sooner or later. The guys weren’t happy being called “honorary members” so we had to come up with something worthy! We know you guys are out there! We hear you and want you to feel welcome. So, in all fairness to you all – you can now brag that you are Hicks with Ticks.

Now, we all need to remember our roles. No, I am not talking about who is in the kitchen cooking or who wears the bra – I mean our responsibility to Go Anywhere! We need to get out there and have unscheduled adventures. We need to empower others to explore. We need to enlighten those that aren’t comfortable in the outdoors. We need to entertain…hell it’s fun!

We especially need to share our experiences with other – especially young people. I once taught an adventure camp. I was dumbfounded by how many kids had never played in the mud, gone to a forest, climbed a tree, gotten dirty. I made it my job to mess all those kids up for the whole summer! That’s right – some of them will remember….some will just be more comfortable in the wilds and won’t know why. Some will probably never look at the world the same – that’s the way I want it for everyone.

Plunder Branch Hwy 62

It's Perfect! Go Anywhere!

Take some time – right now if you can – both Chicks and Hicks alike, young and old, to invite someone to share an adventure with you. Tell them that they can Go Anywhere! Show them where to go to find the minnows, frogs, park benches, trails, trees, flowers, and world! Show them that there is so much more out there and it won’t eat you!! It won’t poison you!! It will only make you feel amazed and lucky. You may see things no one else will ever see.

Then, come back here and report who and where and what and how and why and when and every little detail you can remember! Show us photos and share your stories – good and bad – happy and sad. Tell us why you are here and why you come back. Most importantly – do it now!

I dare YOU – Yes – YOU – to Go Anywhere!!

Unknown depth of water.

It’s no big surprise that we work in and around water almost every day. We stay wet and muddy most of the time and, quite frankly, we prefer it that way. Why, just last week we spent two days on a river and opted out of waders just so we could feel the rush of flowing water again after an office confinement of some weeks. So, it’s not out of the ordinary for us to walk into the wilds and up to some water and need to get in.

We care about each other. It’s just a factor (that’s a joke for some who know Reggie). It makes the days better and the dangers less creepy. It also makes safety a critical thought in everything we do. Now, some might say, “Jacque, I have never really heard much talk of safety.” Well, that’s just a damn lie. We talk about safety every day in some shape, form or fashion and some days, we talk about it at every turn.

Now what we call safety talk may sound a little different to another Chick or Hick with Ticks (Yeah – we are gonna have to just go ahead and make the men a part of the club now – they are starting to whine!). We might say, “Entering and unknown depth of water,” and laugh out loud. That’s code for – I am entering water and I have no idea what’s in there or how deep – watch my back, be ready to jump on something creepy and stop me if you see something I don’t.

I can’t stress enough the need for a stick! You just STICK IT IN!! It helps you know how deep (up to a point) and if there’s something creeping. It lets us know about the mud or muck we might step into and how deep or dangerous it might be. If the water is deeper than the yard stick – well hell – you might reconsider walking to another spot to try to get in.

We talk about how the temperature affects animals and what we need to look out for. We talk about wind storms and thunderstorms, lightning and insects. We talk about scratches and eye protection. We talk about who is looking where and if you have my back or I yours. We talk about the times things went wrong and what we would do to prevent that from happening. We talk about people who broke our rules and almost suffered serious consequences. We talk about snakes and snakeboots, machetes, knives, and blood.

Something may lurk in pools.

The one thing we can never escape (and thank goodness for that) is an unknown depth of water. That means that we are probably somewhere wild. Somewhere that has secrets lurking in each pool that plays host to things large and small that could hurt us but probably won’t. It means we might see something rare and wonderful. It means we might make it through one more adventure together without anything happening that would make us hurt or scared.

There are times when the hurt and scares happen anyway. Oh, nothing major, maybe a scratch while trying to avoid a strange-looking log or deep hole. Maybe you were listening to some strange sound in the distance and forgot to watch your footing. You know then that you need to focus. There is something exciting in stepping into the wilds and making your way through to the banks of a hidden stream. You look upstream and down and see what you can. You brace yourself for the next step into an unknown depth of water.

Madtoms

Beneath the leaf mats they sit in darkness

Waiting waiting for the moon to rise and the winds to die

Slick sticky thickness wriggling wetly

Up through the muck up up they gurgle

Wide mouths wear wicked whiskers

Sucking sounds as they slurp up somethings

In the night

The catfish bite

Madtoms

I sometimes forget how nerdy we are. We use weird jargon, long words, scientific names, and other industry gobble-di-gook without a care in the world. It is my sincere hope to share some of my vast knowledge of these crazy things so that you, too, can impress (or depress) people by using fancy shmancy words. So, this is my

Chicks with Ticks Glossary of Termino-logical-ish-ness

  • Fluvial Geomorphology– this is a great way to become instantly labeled a nerd – this is the term used to describe the science of studying the way water changes the earth.

    Fluvial Geomorphology

  • Herbaceous – the means a plant that doesn’t have a woody nature or stem. Weeds, herbs, and other “soft” plants fall into this category.
  • Graminoid – grasses and bamboo like plants (sounds like a space alien though)
  • Riparian – on or of the bank of a stream, creek or river but also lake and pond
  • Hydrologic indicator – these are various signs of where water sits. Some of them are simple, like stain lines and rafted debris. Others are elusive and more difficult to determine like lichen lines and mosses. If you hold your nose and sound like a geek and say “hydrologic indicator” it makes you wildly popular at parties!!!
  • Macroinvertebrates– tiny aquatic insects, larva, and other living organisms that are large enough to be seen without microscope. Yeah right! Some of these suckers and teensie tiny – look ’em up! Some are creepy too – trust me on this one. Dragonfly larvae are some of the ugliest yet turn out to be these delicate creatures….you really should look at these suckers! MOST OF THEM BITE TOO!!

    Macroinvertebrates

  • Piscivores – creatures that eat fish – not like humans – we do eat fish but not as most of our diet. There are piscivorous fish, birds, mammals, and reptiles. These make most of their diet out of fish! Try to say piscivorous 3 times real fast  – and video tape it and post it!!
  • Thalweg – in a stream or river, it’s the deepest part of the flow path or cross section. Sounds like a weird disease!! “Oh, my brother’s got the thalwegs.”
  • Hydraulic Carving – this one of the cool methods of stream creation. A pump circulates water through a shaped valley. Eventually, if set at the right pumping rate, this recycled water simulates many years of flow and actually carves a stream! It is NOT how you want to carve your jack-o-lantern.
  • Chicks with Ticks – this is a group of women of all ages who take the step out into the wild to explore, excite, enlighten, encourage, and empower! You don’t have to slash your way through a Florida swamp or crawl into a forest. You could read a book about adventures. Paint a scene, write a poem, have a discussion, or have another type of experience that broadens your horizons and gives you insight into the great outdoors. This is a great big world ladies (and gentlemen). We spend too much time NOT experiencing it. Our mission is to excite you – invite you – and get you outside where you can GO ANYWHERE. You just start at YOUR beginning and take steps from there. You , like me, might find that it’s a lot easier and more enthralling than you ever imagined. In fact, don’t be surprised if you find your inner adventurer along the way and start to see the world with wiser eyes….you too may become WILD! I know at least two people who have suffered a similar fate and wouldn’t go back!

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